Feed sharks and pet some stingrays at the Aquarium of the Pacific’s new animal encounter

So maybe you’ve heard about the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Animal Encounters programs over the last few months. It’s a popular attraction that allows guests to hang out up-close with their sea-dwelling creatures, like the penguin encounters, or witness behind-the-scenes care, like the seals and sea lions encounter.

Pre-pandemic there were eight encounters that participants could experience, but given the times, the aquarium had to scale back and figure out how to safely bring them back. After a bit of configuring, the aquarium is now offering a third attraction, the Sharks and Rays Animal Encounter.

What’s fun about this particular encounter is how hands-on it is. Unlike the sea lions encounter, which only allowed participants to watch the sea lions be fed by husbandry staff, or the penguin encounters, which offered guests some time to hang out close-up with one of their Megallanic penguins (no touching, though), the sharks and rays encounter allows guests to feed and pet their sea creatures.

Opening the 30-minute experience is a stop by the smaller pool at the Shark Lagoon, with a breakfast time feeding for their bamboo sharks. You won’t be allowed to pet those long-tailed predators, but afterward, at the larger pool, home to their cownose (sting)rays, participants will get to wade in the pool to feed and pet the slippery-swimmers (water booties will be included). Aquarium staff will chaperone guests during the experience and educate participants about all that goes into caring for the unique creatures.

The sharks and rays encounter is offered Thursdays and Fridays and costs $150 per person ($135 for aquarium members). Reservations require a minimum of two guests and a maximum of four, all being, of course, from the same household. Ticket price does include a general admission ticket to the aquarium, so guests will have access to the rest of the outdoor attractions the remainder of their visit. Reservations must be booked a day in advance and can be done online, click here.

While this may go without saying, we’re gonna say it anyway, guests are required to follow all COVID-19 health and safety protocols, that includes wearing a mask at all times and maintaining a six-foot distance from other guests and aquarium staff. Also, expect to have your temperature taken upon arrival.

For more information about the Sharks and Rays encounter visit the Aquarium of the Pacific’s website, which you can find here.

The Aquarium of the Pacific is located at 100 Aquarium Way.

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Cheantay Jensen is an editorial intern who covers art and culture for the Hi-lo section of the Long Beach Post.
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